London: British Literature and Culture

Students sit and listen to a presentation about the archives.

Program Term:


Language Requirement:



 Dana Currier

Application Deadline:


The London program is designed to provide students with the unique opportunity to study British literature and culture in London, the lively capital of modern England and a city of great beauty and historical richness.

    In the course of this intensive quarter-long program, students take four courses. Three of these courses, devoted to British literature and culture, are each compressed into approximately three weeks and taught in succession by Chicago faculty. The fourth course runs throughout the term at a less intensive pace and allows for independent study of a London-based topic. London itself, once the metropolitan hub of the British Empire with a history dating from Roman times, is central to the mission of this program and students are expected to make a serious project of exploring its corners. Toward this end, the program includes a number of field trips within and around London, aimed at connecting texts with living monuments.

    Autumn 2024 Course Descriptions

    London: Industrial City to Financial Center (Elaine Hadley) 
    Over the last two centuries, London has undergone two “revolutions,” the industrial revolution and the financialization revolution, both of which have had significant impacts on the built landscape and residential patterns of its neighborhoods. In the nineteenth century, London was not necessarily the locus of the industrial revolution that transformed the United Kingdom in uneven ways, but was nonetheless profoundly affected by it. Most notably, the size of London was one million in 1801 but increased to 6.7 million by 1901, with associated impacts on the urban environment. And over the past three decades, in part through intentional interventions by national and city government, London has become a major world financial center, arguably becoming one of the “global cities.” This, too, has ushered in significant changes in the lived textures of London, altering the horizons of the City of London and the East End in particular. With these two events as frame, we will explore a variety of literary texts that concentrate on specific regions, neighborhoods, and even streets that have registered these forces in detectable ways. We will explore, in particular, the concepts of slum clearance, development and gentrification, even as we remain primarily dedicated to thinking about how literary works seek to depict these large-scale transformations. Our study will be supported by guided walks and treks through some of the more notable neighborhoods touched by the effects of industrialization and financialization.

    Writing After Windrush (Kaneesha Parsard) 
    In 1948, the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury, Essex. Onboard were subjects of the British Crown from colonies such as Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago. Their arrival would transform British society, forcing a confrontation with its colonial past. What we now know as Caribbean literature took hold in this period, as newly arrived West Indian writers found platforms for their work on radio and in London publishing houses. The Windrush Generation and their descendants have commented on race and empire ever since.

    “Writing After Windrush” explores the legacies of Windrush in fiction and poetry, visual arts, and social movements, interpreting “writing” as a broad range of media and discourse. Beginning with Henry Swanzy, Una Marson, and their leadership on the BBC radio show Caribbean Voices, we will engage with the creative works of Windrush migrants and their descendants: Trinidadian British novelist Samuel Selvon, Jamaican British dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, Guyanese British mixed-media artist Hew Locke, and others. To understand social struggle, we will study the life of activist Claudia Jones and her founding of the West Indian Gazette And Afro-Asian Caribbean News. We will consider the memory of Windrush through the moving image, in Steve McQueen’s 2020 anthology series Small Axe. Finally, we will examine the 2018 Windrush Scandal, in which at least 83 Britons were unjustly deported, in conversation with works like Hazel Carby’s account of the intertwined histories of Jamaica and Britain, Imperial Intimacies (2019). Throughout, we will travel throughout London for museum and studio visits, food, and more.

    British and Irish Cinema Since 1930 (Jim Chandler) 
    We will be screening and discussing key films from almost a century’s worth of cinema on the British-Irish archipelago, including works of the early Alfred Hitchcock, Alexander McKendrick, David Lean, Frank Launder, Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger, Joseph Losey, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, Stephen Frears, Neil Jordan, Amma Asante, Steve McQueen, and Lenny Abramson. Some priority will be given to films with London settings and locations, such as Frears’s My Beautiful Laundrette. We may also look at London-based films by non-British directors. Silvio Narizzano’s Georgy Girl, for example, or Antonioni’s Blow-up. Possible field trips include Ealing Studios, site of British cinema for much of the twentieth century, and Hitchcock’s studios in Islington, not far from our London Campus, where he worked before his departure for America.

    London program participants usually reside in shared, furnished studio apartments in central London. The apartments include fully equipped kitchens, private bathrooms, laundry facilities, and wireless internet access.

    It is important to recognize the cultural context of student housing in the UK and understand that the amenities of the student apartments may vary. Although some of these differences may take some getting used to, remember that cultural differences extend to all aspects of your experience abroad. Having realistic expectations for your term in London will help you approach the study abroad experience with a positive attitude.

    Participants in the London program remain registered as full-time students in the College. They take and receive credit for four courses: the three courses in the “British Literature and Culture” sequence and the fourth independent study course. Literature courses taught by Chicago English faculty may be used in their respective majors without special approval. Their use, partial or total, in other majors must be approved by the undergraduate chair of that department. Courses not used to meet major requirements may fill elective slots. Course titles, units of credit, and grades are placed on the College transcript.

    Study abroad students pay regular College tuition, a program fee, and a nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for the London program during the 2024–2025 year are listed below:

    Autumn tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

    Study abroad administrative fee: $675

    London program fee: $5,960

    Program fee includes:

    Out-of-pocket expenses include:

    • round-trip airfare to and from the program site
    • passport/visa fees
    • transportation on site
    • meals
    • course materials
    • personal entertainment and travel
    • communications (most students bring or buy a cell phone)
    • health insurance and upfront payments for care
    • other miscellaneous expenses 

    Previous program participants report spending in the range of $200 to $250 per week on meals and incidentals while on the program, though frugal students may spend less, and others could spend much more. Bear in mind that the cost of living in London is relatively high and that, while it is possible to live frugally, it is also possible to run short of money if you are unwary. It is therefore essential that you budget your funds prudently, apportioning your resources so that they last for the duration of the program. If you are planning to travel before or after the program or on weekends, you should budget accordingly.

    Study abroad students retain their financial aid eligibility. For more information about financial aid resources, please see our Tuition, Fees, and Funding section.

    The London program is open to University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Applications from outside the University are not accepted.

    The program is designed for University of Chicago undergraduates in good academic and disciplinary standing with a strong interest in British literature and culture and with some coursework in this area. It is not required that English be a student’s major subject at Chicago, though students concentrating in those fields will likely find the program to be especially attractive and profitable. In general students should present a solid academic record and demonstrate the kind of maturity that is necessary to participate successfully in a program abroad.

    Each application is examined on the basis of the student’s scholastic record and personal statement. If you are interested in applying for this program please fill out the online application.

    To discuss the London: British Literature and Culture program and the possibility of participating, please contact Dana Currier.